New national report finds recounts rarely change election results
The nonpartisan organization FairVote looked at nearly 6,300 races across the country.
MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz. (3TV/CBS 5) -- With races still too close to call and a new recount law in Arizona, it’s likely we’ll see more recounts this year in our state. And that would mean election workers would be working into December.
How could a recount impact the election results? A new national report by the nonpartisan organization FairVote found election recounts rarely change the outcome of a race. It looked at 6,297 statewide elections from 2000 to 2022 and found there were 35 recounts with only three overturning the outcome of the race.
Deb Otis, the director of research for the group, says all three of those races had initial results within less than 1/10 of one percent. “And so only in really close races can you even expect that you might get a different outcome from a recount,” she added.
Otis says about half of all states have an automatic recount law in effect and that’s considered best practice. However, some other states let candidates or campaigns request a recount.
“We’ve seen an increase in what we think of as frivolous recounts over the last couple of years,” Otis said. “If there’s no cap, sometimes we see recounts when a candidate is trailing by 10 or 20 points and there’s no realistic expectation we can overturn the outcome.”
What typically happens during a recount, Otis says, is both sides gain a small number of votes. This often comes down to disputed ballots, she said.
Maricopa County Election Department officials say that since 2014 there have been three recounts and the judge affirmed the results in all three cases.
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